Shear-induced rigidity in spider silk glands

Kristie J. Koski, Keri McKiernan, Paul Akhenblit, Jeffery Yarger

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We measure the elastic stiffnesses of the concentrated viscous protein solution of the dehydrated Nephila clavipes major ampullate gland with Brillouin light scattering. The glandular material shows no rigidity but possesses a tensile stiffness similar to that of spider silk. We show, however, that with application of a simple static shear, the mechanical properties of the spider gland protein mixture can be altered irreversibly, lowering symmetry and enabling shear waves to be supported, thus, giving rise to rigidity and yielding elastic properties similar to those of the naturally spun (i.e., dynamically sheared) silk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103701
JournalApplied Physics Letters
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Sep 3 2012


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)

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